El Salvador

El Salvador
Capital city San Salvador
Surface 21,040 km²
Population 6,345,000
Road network length 10,029 km
Length of highway network 69 km
First highway ?
Motorway name autopista
Traffic drives Right
License plate code ES

El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador) is a small country in North America. The country has 6.3 million inhabitants and is the size of half of the Netherlands. The capital is San Salvador.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, El Salvador is located on the Pacific Ocean, of all Central American countries, El Salvador is the only country that only has a coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The country borders Honduras to the north and Guatemalain the West. The country measures 250 by 100 kilometers. El Salvador is a mountainous country, there are several volcanoes with peaks between 1,500 and 2,000 meters, but the highest mountain is the 2,730 meter high Cerro El Pital on the border with Honduras. Despite its small size, El Salvador has several lakes, the Río Lempa is the main river that is quite wide in the lower reaches. The country has a tropical climate with dry and wet seasons. Temperatures mainly vary according to altitude. The average maximum temperature in San Salvador is between 29 and 32°C. There is very little precipitation in the winter and a lot in the summer and autumn.


El Salvador has more than 6 million inhabitants, making it the most populous country in Central America. More than half a million inhabitants live in the capital San Salvador, but the urbanized region has more than 2 million inhabitants and is one of the larger urban regions of Central America. See El Salvador population density. There are a total of 10 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, 7 of which are located around the capital. The only larger cities outside the San Salvador region are Santa Ana and Ahuachapán to the west and San Miguel to the east. Striking, but characteristic of much of Central America is that there are no large coastal towns.

As in many Central American countries, El Salvador’s population is largely Mestizo, a mix of Indo-American and European. They make up 86% of the population. El Salvador has a much higher proportion of whites than elsewhere in the region, at nearly 13%. There is hardly any indigenous population in El Salvador. Spanish is spoken by almost the entire population, there are hardly any indigenous languages ​​that are still spoken.


Like neighboring Honduras, El Salvador also has a larger manufacturing industry than elsewhere in Central America. Textiles and electronic products are the main exports, supplemented by agricultural products, but much less than in most other countries in the region. However, high crime rates and corruption are a barrier to foreign investment. The country relies heavily on money from abroad, especially Salvadorans living in the United States. Traditionally, Acajutla was the main export port of El Salvador, from 2016 a new port was developed in La Union.


In 1522 the first Spaniards reached what is now El Salvador. Due to its location on the Pacific Ocean, it was discovered a little later than the east coast of Central America. From 1524, Spanish conquistadors moved into the region from Mexico, after which the area was colonized. The capital, San Salvador, was founded in 1525. In 1821 the region became independent from Spain, after which it became a part of Mexico, but shortly afterwards the United States of Central America was founded, of which El Salvador was a part. In 1841 this country ceased to exist, the country was then independent but in 1896 became part of the Republic of Central America, along with what is now Honduras and Nicaraguais. In 1898 this state was dissolved, from that moment El Salvador existed as a sovereign state. The 20th century was marked by political instability and several coups. In 1969 a short “football war” was fought with neighboring Honduras. In 1979 the Salvadoran Civil War broke out, which lasted until 1992 and killed 75,000 people. After the civil war, the political situation in El Salvador stabilized, but crime soared in the 21st century, with many gangs running the show. The country has since had the highest murder rate in the world. Tackling crime in El Salvador is the government’s top priority.

Road Network

The length of the Salvadoran road network is calculated quite varied, between 10,000 and 30,000 kilometers, depending on what is called a road. In 1991, the Red Vial Nacional was established as being 9,523 kilometers long. In 2002, however, only 2,394 kilometers were paved, which grew to 3,971 kilometers of asphalt in 2016. Of the approximately 30,000 kilometers of road in total, about 20,000 kilometers are unpaved.

The country has a relatively developed road network, the asphalt network of roads is much denser than in most other Central American countries. There is approximately 330 kilometers of road with 2×2 lanes, some of which are highway standard. The quality of these highways varies, from excellent to severely substandard. More recently, new highways have been built around the capital San Salvador. The main roads run from San Salvador through Santa Ana to the border with Guatemala, and from San Salvador to the city’s airport, which is quite a distance from the city. Highways are made of both concrete and asphalt, and are often toll roads.

El Salvador’s main roads run east-west:

  • Carretera Panamericana
  • Carretera del Litoral
  • Carretera Longitudinal del Norte
Autopistas in El Salvador
Autopista Este – Oeste • Boulevard Diego Holguín • Autopista Comalapa

Road management

The national road authority of El Salvador is the Ministerio de Obras Publicas, Transporte, Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano. Daily maintenance is assigned to Fovial, which manages 6,384 kilometers of road, of which 3,971 kilometers (62%) are asphalted.

Ruta centroamericana

The rutas centroamericana is an international network of major highways in parts of Central America. These roads form El Salvador’s main road network, connecting all major cities and being the main connections to the export ports and neighboring countries. The rutas centroamericanas are all paved.

List of rutas centroamericanas in El Salvador

No. Procedure
CA1 Border Guatemala – Santa Ana – San Salvador – Cojutepeque – San Miguel – Pasaquina – border Honduras
CA2 Border Guatemala – Acajutla – Zacatecoluca – Usulután – La Unión
CA4 Border Honduras – Tejutla – Apopa – San Salvador – La Libertad
CA7 Perquin – San Miguel
CA8 Border Guatemala – Ahuachapán – Sonsonate – Nueva San Salvador
CA12 Border Honduras – Santa Ana – Sonsonate – Acajutla

Ruta national

Unlike many other Latin American countries, the rutas nacionales do not have that much importance in El Salvador. The rutas nacionales are only an addition to the rutas centroamericanas, so they are often short-lived and of only regional importance. Although several rutas nacionales start in larger cities, especially in and around the capital San Salvador, they are not the main roads. Rutas nacionales are, however, always paved.

List of rutas nacionales

No. Procedure
RN1 San Martin – Apopa
RN2 San Salvador – Soyapango
RN3 Santo Tomás – San Miguel Tepezontes – Cojutepeque
RN4 San Salvador – San Marcos // La Esperanza – San Juan Talpa – Zacatecoluca – San Vicente
RN5 San Marcos – Santo Tomás – San Juan Talpa – San Luis Talpa // San Salvador – Santa Cruz (2 routes)
RN6 San Salvador – San Marcos
RN7 Apopa – Nejapa
RN8 Cojutepeque – Sensuntepeque
RN9 Santa Lucia – Ciudad Arce – El Congo – Santa Ana
RN10 El Sunza – El Congo
RN11 Apancoyo – San Julian – El Beberedo
RN12 Valle Nuevo – Salcoatitan
RN13 Santa Ana – Ahuachapan
RN14 Usulutan – El Triunfo
RN15 Concepcion de Ataco – Jujutla – El Suncita
RN16 El Transito – San Miguel
RN17 San Miguel – El Delirio
RN18 Llano de Santiago – Santa Rosa de Lima
RN19 Sirama – La Union
RN20 San Salvador – Soledad – Nueva San Salvador
RN21 San Salvador – Nueva San Salvador

Ruta departmental

The rutas departamentales form the secondary pathways. They are numbered per department, with the prefix of the abbreviation of the department. Only part of these roads is paved. They often form branches from main roads to small villages. The network of these roads is quite dense but they seldom have more than one interurban importance.

Prefix department
AHU Ahuachapan
CAB Cabanas
CHA Chalatenango
Cus Cuscatlan
LIBA La Libertad
PAZ La Pazu
UNI La Union
MOR Morazán
SAM San Miguel
SALE San Salvador
SAV San Vicente
SAN Santa Ana
SON Sonata
USU Usulután

Road numbering

There are three road number layers in El Salvador;

  • The Ruta centroamericana (prefix “CA”)
  • The Ruta Nacional (prefix “RN”)
  • The Ruta Departamental (prefix abbreviation department)

Road numbers always have 2 digits in written language. There are no 3 digit numbers and 1 digit numbers have a leading zero, such as the CA01 or RN01.

El Salvador Location Map